Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said on Sunday that the unprecedented rain had caused a “climate catastrophe” with floods that flooded homes, destroyed farmland and displaced millions of people.
“We first had to deploy the navy to operate in Indo-Pakistan because much of it resembles a small ocean,” she told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
On Monday, the death toll reached 1,061 since mid-June, according to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), as the relentless rain raised fears that there would be further fatalities.
“By the time this is over, we could have a quarter or a third of Pakistan under water,” Rehman told Turkish news channel TRT World on Thursday.
On Monday, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed the scale of the disaster: houses and fields completely submerged along the Indus River, as well as the towns of Rajanpur and Rojhan in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.
Videos released by the Pakistani military show troops conducting treacherous helicopter rescues of people stranded in floodwaters, including a boy trapped on rocks in the middle of a raging river in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Rapid flash floods have destroyed more than 3,000 kilometers of roads, damaged 130 bridges and 495,000 houses, according to the latest NDMA situation report, making access to flooded areas even more difficult.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Butto-Zardari said this year’s monsoon season had been “absolutely devastating”.
“I have not seen destruction or devastation of this magnitude,” Butto-Zardari said. “I find it very difficult to put into words the wording we are used to, whether it be monsoon rains or flooding, not quite accurately reflecting the ongoing destruction and disasters that we are still experiencing.”
A national disaster
After meeting ambassadors and diplomats in Islamabad on Friday, he enlisted the help of the international community.
On Monday, Peter Ophoff, the IFRC’s chief delegate in Pakistan, said the aid network had called on more than $25 million to provide urgent aid to an estimated 324,000 people in the country.
“When we look at the incredible damage that the floods have caused, it’s slowly becoming clear to us that the relief effort will take a very long time to see what’s left of their homes,” Ophoff said.
According to a statement Saturday from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, more than 3.1 million people were displaced by the “sea-like” floodwaters that damaged more than half a million homes in multiple districts across the country. IFRC).
Abrar ul Haq, chairman of the relief network in Pakistan, said on Friday that water is not the only challenge facing humanitarian aid workers in the region.
“These severe flooding has severely limited transportation and mobility. The threat of Covid-19 and damage to vehicles, infrastructure and connectivity make our emergency response operations nearly impossible. Most of those affected are also immobile or stranded making it difficult for us to reach them,” he said. said.
Monster Monsoon of the Decade
Pakistan is already battling through its eighth cycle of monsoon rains, Rehman said Thursday, an anomaly in a country that typically has three or four such rainy periods a year.
“Pakistan is experiencing one of the worst climate catastrophes in the world,” Rehman said in a video statement.
“We are at this point on the frontline of extreme weather events, which we have seen from early this year through a relentless cascade of heat waves, wildfires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake eruptions and now the monster monsoon of the century.”
In his comments on Sunday, Butto-Zardari said Pakistan is bearing the brunt of climate change as other countries with larger carbon footprints are doing little to reduce their emissions.
“Pakistan contributes negligible amounts to the overall carbon footprint, but we are devastated time and again by climate catastrophes like this, and we have to adapt with our limited resources,” he said.